The San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District is expected next month to decide whether it will fund the City of Visalia’s grant application for $583,053. The city hopes to establish a 16-passenger shuttle bus service between Visalia and Fresno this fall.
In applying to the District, the city contends that such a public transportation service would be significant in helping to reduce emissions. If granted, Visalia would use the funds to purchase three buses and subsidize fares until ridership demand stabilizes the price. Currently, Greyhound offers service five times per day between Visalia and Fresno for nearly $20 one way. A goal of the grant is to keep ticket prices close to $10 until ridership demand, projected to take so long as three years, is such that the base one-way fare settles close to that figure. Students, seniors and the disabled might qualify for a discount.
The program is expected to cost over $800,000.
One motivation behind the city’s application is the possibility of Visalia Municipal Airport losing its Essential Air Service status if it does not meet minimum enplanement or subsidy targets. SeaPort Airlines’ contract ends in 2016, and plans to begin service on February 9, taking over service from Great Lakes Airlines.
Fresno Yosemite International Airport would be a destination of the proposed shuttle. In addition to Fresno and Visalia airports, other stops would include Fresno State, Manchester Center and Courthouse Park. The return trip to Visalia would terminate at the Visalia Transit Center. From there to the Fresno Airport would require approximately 55 minutes. The journey to Fresno State would take 11 minutes longer.
The shuttle’s weekday-only service would make four roundtrips to Fresno at 6am, 9am, 1pm and 4pm.